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The New World

by Don Paul Martin 2 months ago in Short Story
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An Ill-Fated Maiden Voyage. Not That One, Though. The Other One.

Actual Image of the "Iceberg" Which Struck Titanic

Westarctica had become a tourist destination for biped mammals, and every penguin alive understood that those creatures were deadly tourists. Groups of pink, hairy bipeds came, leaving behind charred ground, animal skin huts, and constructs made from plants and glistening argent bones. Just two mating seasons ago, President Waddle attempted to welcome a group of these fragrant creatures as they approached the capital, sending a team of brave guins bearing krill gift baskets, anchovy snow cones, and the shiniest pebblegems from the depths of Where’d-Bruce-Go Crevasse. Only one guin returned, reporting his comrades had been devoured. It was only by miracle during his own unspeakable torture that he escaped. Each highest hotskyball since, the denizens of Westarctica remember those hero penguins by squawking low ballads about the day known forevermore as “The Really Nasty Hello People Try.”

Bjorn Gentoo made his way to the IEU recruitment office a heartbroken guin. His favorite cousin, Niknik Gentoo, was a guin who didn’t return, and when Bjorn heard about the newly formed government service, he wanted in. “Sir,” Bjorn sighed to the recruiter, “I need out of Westarctica. I’d be happy in Tasmania, or the Strait of Magellan.”

“Think farther!” Recruiter Tuck replied, slapping a flipper on his desk, making the candied kipper bowl bounce. “A flightless aquatic bird like you can go far in the Iceberg Expeditionary Unit!”

“H-How far..?” Bjorn stuttered.

Tuck knew he had this one. “If you join the boldest project ever undertaken by guinkind,” he paused for dramatic effect, calculating his quota requirement, “you'd be revered like… Skipper Goldenfoot!”

“Skipper?” Bjorn whispered. The lone guin to return from The Really Nasty Hello People Try was more venerated than any bird since Morry the Accidentally Chosen.

Skipper Goldenfoot had escaped the carnage, losing a webbed foot, yet still hopping leagues back to the capital. Heroically, he carried with him information so important that when President Waddle read it, he immediately broke wind and called for the creation of the Iceberg Expeditionary Unit.

“I’d just graduated from West A. Rookery,” Bjorn recalled, “when Waddle revealed that the hairy bipeds communicated in fluent penguinese.”

“Well, thank Morry they could,” replied Tuck, “otherwise we wouldn’t know their plans.”

Skipper returned with the scribblings of the mammal Shackleton, who had evidently studied penguinese so thoroughly that his “diary” read like the desirous prose of Agnes the Neversexed. Shackleton wrote of other mammals – Scott, Amundsen, and others – all determined to find something called “southern magnetic pole.” This object was located close to a numeric landmark, for the diary said it will be reached ‘by 1912.’ Undoubtedly, such glory would bring more hairy non-birds until the musky bipeds spread from Westarctica to East Coldlington, where there are no fish to eat or regurgitate. Only guins.

Tuck told Bjorn that the IEU was formed to cross the great saltwater sea before the hairy bipeds arrived. So he, for the future of his supercolony, pricked the tip of his flipper and signed his name in blood on the embarkation agreement. Crossing the sea on the Icecruiser New World was “as much folly as landing an orca on coolskyball,” according to the President’s opponent, but Bjorn only thought of Niknik. A tear beaded up and fell, staining the contract directly aside his name.

* * *

Without question, Reginald Lockeburn was better.

Dr. Mayfield’s letter to the court presiding over Reggie’s case stated that Reggie’s behavior had improved to where social interaction was necessary. Where there had been melancholy, now there was enthusiasm, where there had been paranoia, there was now serenity. Mayfield had shown Reggie’s improvement was no act: the observation room behind the new one-way mirror proved that when visited, his personality was gentlemanly. The letter was reviewed by the court, which adjourned by granting Reggie’s freedom.

Reggie was one of the five miraculous survivors of the Nimrod, and for the last thirty months, Dr. Victor Mayfield was committed to bringing this British Empire hero back to health. The head physician at All Saints Hospital at Winson Green had transformed Reggie from a man rocking back and forth, long blonde hair glued to his face by saliva, to once again a gallant representative of the Royal British Navy. Mayfield had arranged that, when the court review was successful, the magistrate would dispatch John Tonne to deliver the release forms. Tonne was a schoolmate of Reggie’s at the Royal Belfast Academical Institution and a high-ranking officer in the Royal Post Office, authorized to offer national hero Reggie a respectable position and wage.

When Tonne arrived at the institution gates, he was met by Mayfield, who he hadn’t yet met in person as the modern Royal Post made it possible to communicate multiple times daily. The doctor was also a graduate of Royal Belfast as well as a Trustee, so the only player missing this happy day was a fourth Academy alumnus whose own correspondence with Mayfield, Tonne, and the executive committee at Harland and Wolff had secured the ideal circumstance for Reggie’s future. Sadly, due to a collision between a mail ship and a British Navy Cruiser, Thomas Andrews was too busy shuffling resources to attend this small reunion. He would soon, however, welcome his classmate aboard the largest Royal Mail steamer ever constructed.

As Mayfield and Tonne approached Reggie, their gazes met his. Sitting on a bench, toes twinkling through blades of soft grass, spinning his lucky penguin’s foot midair, Reggie’s smile lit up the courtyard.

For two and a half years, he’d waited for that English-speaking, black and white pixie’s promise to materialize, so long that he doubted his own memory, but seeing the two men walking proudly toward him, he understood that it had really happened. He had made the blood pact with the flightless bird in exchange for the standard magical return. He wasn’t mad.

Without question, Reginald Lockeburn was better.

* * *

The New World’s first emergency occurred two brights after the behemoth icecruiser was chipped and launched from the glacier edge of Westarctica. A floating ice mountain in the narrows of the salty coastal sea approached it like a guin in heat. Captain Bobble, in a moment of naval strategic brilliance, ordered all flippers to the port edge of the New World deck, where they leaned as far over as possible, flapping away from the oncoming hunk of un-guinned ice. Catastrophe was avoided, with only a scrape damaging the aft of the ship. The crew unanimously agreed that The Bobble Maneuver should go down in history as one of the most absurd-looking military strategies of all time.

Thirty-five brights and darks later, Westarctica had long disappeared from sight. The temperature was noticeably warmer, and the surface of the New World glistened. The learned guin Beady the Elder had predicted ice sweat and advised President Waddle that the ship being built must be vastly larger than any berg ever in order to get to the hypothetical north counter-pole without melting. “If we are to escape the bipeds’ stomachs,” Beady proposed, “the icecruiser must be gargantuan.” The Scientific Community verified Beady’s theory when, after tests using the element known as ‘fire,’ the Scientific Community tragically melted.

The Pessimistic Guin Debating Society believed the north pole must be a parched expanse, while the Optimistic Guin Debating Society countered that its shores would be rich with kippers, salt-fried to perfection like those served at the famed Gil’s Gourmet Eateraunt. While the Pessimistic Guins argued that no place in nature could exist to equal the culinary delights of Gil’s, the Optomistic Guins had already subsidized the New World’s kitchen staff to build well-shaded eateraunts on prime salt-fried kipper coastline in time for New World II’s arrival. Upon hearing this, Gil himself patented his salt-fried kipper recipe and was immediately granted membership in the Pragmatic Guin Debating Society.

Bobble asked for volunteers to measure ice loss as the ship drifted in the warming current. Bjorn responded immediately, so the captain recognized him with a field promotion to Masterguin Assigned to Safety Things. “MAST,” Bjorn thought, and was inspired. Bjorn read the journals of the biped Shackleton as soon as they were publicly available, and the Nimrod – the vessel on which the pink mammals had arrived at Westarctica – was wind-propelled using sacrificed skyward-growing plants called “trees.” On the sixty-eighth bright of the journey, the once flat surface of the New World now sported three towering guinmade spikes on its bow, the left and right shaved ice mini-mountains measuring ten guins in height, the center measuring fifteen. He hadn’t gotten the science of it down yet, but Bjorn believed the New World could also use “masts.”

Guins brainstormed over what other purposes the masts could serve. Bjorn’s idea was for measuring ice loss: the height of the structures would be recorded daily. The center mini-mountain, Bobble proposed, would be used as a viewing platform from which other floating ice islands could be spotted and then Bobble-Maneuvered. A water sweat swabber named TappiJoe Whitesides, a snowpainter by trade, suggested the three spires be used to determine time and speed by monitoring shadows on the deck, and at darktime could be aligned with bright spots in the sky to confirm the ships’ direction. Captain Bobble quickly transferred TappiJoe to the galley in order to stop confusing the other swabbers.

On the one hundred second midbright, the guin called Chuq was staring at the spires in a hypnotic state when he said two words out loud. "Ring toss." Uniformly all guins on deck lifted their beaks to curiously examine Chuq, then with equal uniformity looked at the spires. A gasp of abstract agreement swept through them, and Bjorn felt chills, for he counted himself among those who agreed yet had absolutely no concept of what they were agreeing with.

When Bjorn presented his ice loss report to Captain Bobble, the news wasn’t bad: since the completion of the spires, just four percent of the ship had been lost. Spongers were doing a commendable job reclaiming lost water, collecting it, and sending it to the deep interior of the New World to resolidify. The ship, if anything, was becoming denser.

Captain Bobble raised his flippers, Bjorn believing he was coming in for a guinhug. “It’s time we break out the skins of fermented algaebeverage and celebrate. SafetyMaster, will you break out the rations for the crew?”

Bjorn blinked twice, then giggled. “Yes, sir, it’s a privilege.” As Bobble slapped a flipper against Bjorn’s back and waddled away, Bjorn wondered if such an undertaking was a good idea. Something just didn’t feel very safe about it.

* * *

Reggie arrived at Roches Point, two miles offshore of Queenstown, at noon exactly, with 1,385 bags of mail. Titanic had just arrived from Cherbourg, France, and would raise anchor at 1:30 to depart for America. The lone challenge for the royally rewarded Postal Inspector was the ceremonial ordering of lackeys to hook bags from one ship and load the other, then he’d relax in his stateroom and pretend to observe the two British clerks, James and John. Immediately after barking his order, he boarded Titanic, for he heard that second class accommodations here were on par with first class on any other ship. A steward showed him to his stateroom door and opened it, revealing mahogany furniture, glossy white oak paneling, and glisteningly clean linoleum flooring. Thanks to his schoolmates, he wouldn’t be sharing this room: James and John were re-quartered down in third class. Things were improving daily like the pixie said they would, and he displayed his true ticket to America – his lucky pixie penguin’s foot – on the sconce next to his mirror. The red-stained pocketknife he’d used to obtain it would rest on the shelf adjacent.

He practiced his wishes. “All the money I’ll ever need, fame ‘til world’s end,” Reggie whispered, “and a harem of American women.”

* * *

Eighty more brights had passed when the Long Time Great Wet Blow Vroom happened. New World’s heading felt different since the Algaebeverage Party (and subsequent Great Algaebeverage Vomitsweep, when the swabbers sang their shanty, “In Morry’s Name, Ne’er Again”). Bjorn noted the unexplainable shifting sensation in his journal. “When I was a chick,” he wrote, “I had a spinny shell toy. Once, I spun the shell the other direction to see what would happen. The whole of creation seems to feel like that shell felt that day.”

The Blow Vroom began with the sky glowing crimson, with swirling dark bands. Wader Rok was a guin who had attended West A. Rookery with Bjorn, and he helped collect empty bladder skins, which would be made into hammocks. Wader was a portly guin with a crab-shaped birthmark on his forehead. He stood alongside Bjorn during that first crimson hour, eventually announcing “red sky first thing... bad thing.” Bjorn slowly peered at Wader, dumfounded, for he realized that in all the time he knew Wader, these were the first words he’d ever heard him say. Bjorn was ready to reply when Wader darted to the ice slide and disappeared below deck.

Moments later the whippy gusts of wind turned into dangerous aerial tempests, and the downpour began. Wader could sense this, Bjorn thought, and then the blackest skypuffs he ever saw began firing brilliant streaks of white-blue light at each other, followed by bone-rattling reports. The blubber on his flippers grew bumps all over them, and Bjorn looked across deck to Captain Bobble. They shared one thought: get all flippers below deck, immediately.

Several hundred guins descended the slide in less time than it would take a gull to perch on a rock. The lights and booms above went on, the massive ship dipped and peaked in the throes of waves. Many found the experience as traumatic as the time just before the Great Algaebeverage Vomitsweep.

“Every solid sinks within the liquid form of itself,” said TappiJoe Whitesides, “except water.” Bjorn heard him. Since Wader’s six-word poem about red skies and Chuq’s perplexing two-word statement, Bjorn listened to the crew as if Morry the Accidentally Chosen himself were trying to say something. He tracked the paths of light spots on the floor below deck, pin-beams coming through round lenses carved in the hull to allow more brightness inside. Even with the movement of the ship, Bjorn saw a pattern. He hadn’t forgotten TappiJoe’s idea about the spires on deck: the snowpainter from home understood something. Then Bjorn realized something: the tempest was towing the ship with it. No guin who ever lived had moved faster they were now moving.

* * *

Everyguin was asleep when the Long Time Great Wet Blow Vroom ended. The amount of time since the great chipping and launch was now lost to all save Morry in his fluffy nest in the Bright Cave of Ancestors. Bjorn could see hotskyball, low on the horizon through the thin ice hull of the ship. The crew ascended to the deck, and discovered New World was a fraction of the size it had once been, thawed to smooth corners by the warm rain. The three spires appeared to be about the same size but were now gnarled and frightening.

“Is it me,” asked Augwood Albinoguin, “or has it gotten cold again?”

Bjorn’s eyes rolled, not in disbelief, but rather to survey the darkening blue sky.

“It has,” confirmed TappiJoe, “I noticed that even below deck. We should keep measure of it.”

“Aye, there’s something else not right,” added Captain Bobble, squinting at hotskyball.

“It’s lower than it was,” replied TappiJoe. “And it’s behind us.”

“Behind us?” the pale guin, Auggie, puzzled.

“Have we reversed course?” pointed Bjorn. “Maybe the Big Vroom turned us toward home?”

“No,” replied TappiJoe, “we’re still headed the same way, Bjorn.”

“How do you know this, son?” asked the Captain.

TappiJoe eyed Captain Bobble suspiciously. “What are the shapes of hotskyball and coolskyball?”

“Circles,” said Chuq.

“Yes,” TappiJoe replied, “they’re round. The giant ball we’re on is, too. Look…” TappiJoe scooped up some slush from the deck surface and molded it into an orb. “This is a tiny representation of the skyball we live on. This is where we’re from…” he pointed to the bottom of the sphere, “and we’ve travelled this far…” TappiJoe mimicked the path of the New World on the slushball until he pointed almost to the top of the ball, then he pointed at hotskyball: “If you slowly spin ourskyball, one side is dark, the other bright, until they switch. This makes sense if we’re round. And explains why the hotskyball is no longer ahead of us, but still moves right to left.”

Even the guins who didn’t understand TappiJoe’s lesson realized that their lives had just changed because a snowpainter had made a slushball.

“Do we…” began Captain Bobble, “do we have any algae drink left?”

Bjorns eyes flared, ignoring the captain. “Are we still on course, then?”

“I think so,” TappiJoe answered. “But what I tell you next is really going to freak you out.”

“Naw,” said Wader Rok, “like you not done that already.”

“Shh!” said Bjorn, realizing it must be the first time anyone ever shushed Wader. “What is it?”

TappiJoe looked up at the darkening sky, hotskyball having gone below horizon, and every guin on deck looked up with trepidation. “When darktime comes, every bright spot in the sky will be different from the ones we’ve always known.”

“Skipper’s bloody stump,” the captain cursed.

TappiJoe lifted the slush orb. “If our home is the bottom of ourskyball, then everything we see above us now can’t be seen from home because we can’t see through ourskyball to see it.”

Again, a surprising number of guins comprehended. Those who didn’t mimicked the guins who did.

“So… the North Pole,” began Bjorn, “is really ‘up top,’ and the South Pole is ‘down below.’”

“Respectively, where we’re going,” answered TippiJoe, “and home. Yes.”

“So…” Bjorn paused. “Are we in trouble?”

TippiJoe smiled as the first bright spots became visible in the sky. It was apparent that his statement was accurate: above them were alien patterns. “Well,” he replied, “I don’t know if we’re in trouble, but I doubt there’ll be any salt-fried kippers waiting for us once we get there.”

* * *

He had been in deep meditation for ages when Morry let him know to go above.

The wait began that awful day three seasons ago, surrounded by the biped brutes and their animal skin huts. His entire diplomatic team had been snuffed out violently, consumed, and sent to their Ancestors in the Bright Cave. Skipper Goldenfoot was the last of them alive, and then the vilest of the bipeds came to snuff him out as well.

The other bipeds had eaten all they could, but the one with the yellow fur on his head enjoyed the killing more than eating. Skipper understood the eating – he knew that leopard seals weren’t wicked, they were merely hungry – but the joy the yellow-maned one took in extinguishing his prey was of a personality he’d never witnessed in any animal. Yellow-top was something never meant to exist in a nature that knew justice or balance.

Yellow-top held Skipper upside down by the thins above his webbies. Skipper closed his eyes and began reviewing his life, realizing these moments would be the last opportunity he would ever have to remember anything. The terror faded, turning into gratitude when he saw Ma and Pa in his mind’s eye. Yellow-top was carrying him away from the other bipeds, behind an animal skin hut, and Skipper prayed that the pain would pass quickly. Then, if Morry will it, he’d behold the faces of his parents again.

“I will it,” said Morry.

Skipper opened his eyes. Morry the Accidentally Chosen looked back at him through a spectacular brightness edged in gentle fog. Tears dripped up Skipper’s face, an indescribable joy permeating him. Clearly, his faith was rewarding him in his last moments, for the cherished Morry was with him to save him from feeling any pain.

“No,” said Morry, “this is actually going to hurt quite a bit. But you’ll survive if you do two things: first, trust me. Then let me do the talking.”

* * *

When hotskyball was long gone, coolskyball failed to make its appearance. This was perceived by the crew as a bad omen.

“This a dark to remember,” said Wader. Again, Bjorn was surprised to hear his rookerymate’s voice, then, perhaps by force of habit, Wader Rok darted off to the ice slide and disappeared below deck.

Bjorn never heard surroundings so silent. The air was still and there was no crashing wake against the hull of what remained of New World. The salt water below them was as motionless as puddlewater, and he had difficulty determining which stars were in the sky and which were in the great sea. “Let’s get some rest, lads,” Captain Bobble ordered. “Bjorn, climb the guin’s nest and keep first watch of dark. We’ll relieve you after a goodly nap.” The crew yipped, happily making their way to the ice slide to join Wader below.

Bjorn wished he too could bring his new bladderskin hammock below. “Well,” he comforted himself, “I’ll take it to the guin’s nest and maybe it will be good padding.”

It wasn’t. It clung to the ice and there was no way to find comfort on it. He looked at the circular grommets on each end of the hammock, and the bumps on his skin returned. He was mired in the same hypnosis Chuq had experienced that day. Bjorn gasped out loud.

“Ring toss,” he blurted, and everything nebulous about those words became perfectly clear.

Within moments, Bjorn had slipped one grommit over the tip of the central spire and then, a long string held in beak, climbed to the top of the starboard spire to slide the other grommit over its tip. The hammock was taut, but once he climbed into the center of it, he was as cozy as any guin could be.

“Ahhh, yes,” he snored, and then noticed all the bright squares of light approaching the ship, rapidly skimming over the great sea’s surface. “Oh no,” he panicked, “what in Morry’s name is that?”

Bjorn was preparing to trumpet his alarm call when the strangest moment of his life happened.

* * *

When Reggie sat down to gut the last penguin, the strangest moment of his life happened.

“You don’t want to do that,” the bird told him.

Reggie swore, then shook his head. It was subnormal cold, and perhaps he was suffering from mental sluggishness brought about by freezing temperatures. He would feel better, he thought, once he warmed his fingers in the steaming carcass. “Be quiet,” he chided.

“No, you’ll listen to me, fool, lest you suffer every day until your last.”

Yes, the penguin just talked to me, thought Reggie. In English. It’s a British penguin.

“You’re beginning to understand that I’m no ordinary guin, yes?”

Reggie stared into the small black orb on the penguin’s upside-down head. It looked back at him. He saw sentience. He wasn’t hallucinating.

“Now is the opportunity you always believed would come to you, mammal,” the bird said. “Set me free now and you will have those things which other mammals merely dream of.”

Reggie drooled a little. “Three wishes?”

The penguin blinked. “Yes. Yes, three. Three is fair. But three will take time.”


“Strong magic brews slowly, lest it provide hollow results,” answered the penguin. “Let me go today and in three of your years, you will possess three potent wishes.”

“I can’t just let you go, pixie,” Reggie explained. “A man needs collateral. I’m no fool…”

The bird seemed to nod. “Understood,” it answered. “You will have a contract of blood, as is our custom. Do you have parchment?”

Reggie puzzled over this momentarily. “Yes, pages,” he said. “I scribe the Captain’s journal for him.” He removed a pocket-sized diary from his clothing.

“Suitable to the purpose,” said the penguin. “These are our terms, then… you will take one of my feet as collateral. My blood on paper will provide invoice. In three years, your world will daily grow kinder to you, then it will rattle you from slumber, and then I will come for my foot. You will have your wishes.”

The blonde-haired human laughed. “Well alright,” he said, removing a pocketknife from his belt. “Whatever the hell do I have to lose?”

* * *

Bjorn inhaled to let loose a scream, but before he could, a voice advised against it. Momentarily, Bjorn thought that Morry had answered him.

“Be quiet, brother guin,” the voice said, “for this collision is fated.”

Peeking toward the top of the tallest spire, Bjorn saw ambient light reflected from a guin standing atop it. A guin with only one webbie. “You’re…”

“Shh,” said Skipper. “We are sent by Morry to make right the futures of guin and mammal alike.”

“I don’t understand,” begged Bjorn. “That man-ship is headed straight toward us.”

“It is,” answered Skipper. “It will strike us, and none of us will achieve our intended destinations. Believe me, Morry understands everything about accidents.”

Bjorn spied the oncoming hulk, hearing a mammal cry out. “But Skipper… why?”

“Because a meeting ‘tween man and guin should ne’er have taken place, and a compact has been made to erase that misdeed. Guin will stay leary of humans, humans will ne’er learn guins are their equals, for nothing makes men more dangerous than their childish egos. We will hereafter unshare our common language, and the meeting that shouldn’t have been will be forgotten by all.”

“So we’ll all die?”

“No. Only me,” answered Skipper. “The crew will find an uninhabited landhome to the north and will live their lives. As no females are onboard, only one generation will live under these strange brights. But the fish are more delicious than you can imagine, I promise.”

“And what of those humans?”

Skipper’s head lowered. “Many of them will live. Most will not,” he said, “but their loss will teach them, their hubris will ne’er be the same, and they will ne’er forget this particular dark.”

Wader was right, thought Bjorn. Many bipeds now scrambled about the doomed ship colored in guinly hues. “I understand,” he said. “But I don’t think they will.”

Collision was moments away. “Bjorn,” Skipper said. “Niknik was the bravest of those guins that day. I have it on good authority that he sees you from the Bright Cave, and he is most proud of you.”

Bjorn swallowed hard and his voice cracked as he said “thank you, Skipper Goldenfoot.”

“Thank you, Bjorn Gentoo,” Skipper replied. “Now hang on tightly to your hammock.”

* * *

The Honorary Royal Postal Inspector had recently turned out his stateroom lights when the great RMS Titanic shuddered violently. He snapped to attention and laughed, realizing that right now, at long last, was the moment the pixie had prophesied. He grabbed the penguin foot from the sconce and dashed out of his room, eventually arriving at the ship’s bow, where medicine ball sized chunks of ice were sliding about on the deck. He took the severed foot and held it skyward.

“Pixie!” he yelled, caring little that anyone noticed him, “I wish for all the money I’ll ever need, I wish to be famous until the end of the world, and I wish to be the focus of many American women!” Reggie repeated himself for good measure.

When the ship was listing badly, he held the foot aloft and repeated his wishes again.

When the pandemonium aboard was fevered, when the rich knew the ship was about to slide beneath the waves, and when the poor knew they were doomed, and when the band played Nearer My God to Thee, Reggie screamed his wishes at the top of his lungs, unconvinced the pixie could hear them.

When Reggie was freezing again, treading in the North Atlantic, unsure if his mind was sluggish, he held the foot above the waterline and tried his best to say the words a final time.

“I’ll take that back now,” said the pixie’s voice “and now that I am again complete, you have earned your damned wishes.” Reggie felt the severed foot being pulled from his grasp, so he held on, bawling, until he was literally lifted out from the water and into a lifeboat. He scanned the water’s surface, trying to find that cursed bird in the silent tableau of humanity rudely blocking his view.

As the sun rose and he was hauled aboard Carpathia, he mumbled the wishes repeatedly, worried that the words would ring hollow without the foot in his possession. He made it thoroughly clear to deckhands and survivors alike that he’d waited three years for that pogo-penguin’s wishes, and he wanted his money now, his glorious fame now, and his servile American women even faster.

His demands never stopped.

* * *

It was May when Dr. Mayfield received his first communication from Dr. Burton at the Laconia School in America, thanking him for the extremely generous stipend which would care for his former patient. Soon, Burton bragged, they could chat daily about Reggie’s progress as Transatlantic cables were increasingly reliable. Dr. Mayfield’s contribution would give Reggie the care of the best nursing staff in all New England – Ivy-league trained women – twenty-four hours daily. As the tragedy of Titanic reverberated throughout the world, news of Reggie’s survival had initiated other large donations from every corner of the planet. He had miraculously survived a second Herculean maritime trial, and when Roald Amundsen reached the south pole in January – followed by news that Robert Falcon Scott’s team had perished in their attempt – Reggie Lockeburn’s story grew, and would assuredly continue to bring in funds to last him the remainder of his life.

Short Story

About the author

Don Paul Martin

Don began writing his first novel in third grade - and had it survived his mother's cleaning habit, it would certainly have been a number one best seller. He lives in New Hampshire with his lovely wife, son, and three hyperactive cats.

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